Westworld will get bloodier as show introduces ShogunWorld

Hang on to your katana, the theme park modeled after Japan's Edo period is about to open for business.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

Go East, young man. HBO's hit Westworld will be expanding once season two arrives on April 22 (here's everything we know about that), as viewers will be introduced to ShogunWorld, a theme park set in ancient Japan.

The new park was teased in the season one finale, and on April 2, HBO updated the show's Delos Destinations site to describe the park: "For those for whom Westworld is not enough, the true connoisseur of gore can indulge their fantasies with the slash of a katana. Modeled after Japan's Edo period, ShogunWorld offers a chance for guests to embrace their inner warrior, in a landscape of highest beauty and darkest horror."


Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy say the new world is "spectacular," but it won't push the Old West offscreen just yet. 

"Most of our season is spent in Westworld -- the eponymous Westworld," Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. "(But we do) have a couple of episodes that are spent in ShogunWorld with one of our storylines, while our other storylines continue elsewhere."

Nolan revealed a personal obsession with Japanese cinema, especially the films of the legendary director Akira Kurosawa, and Joy says she was awed by the Asian films she grew up watching in Taiwan. Like Westworld, the park is a composite world, combining traditional elements from across hundreds of years of Japanese culture, not strictly just the Edo period (1603-1867).

And if you think Westworld's a bloody place, hang on to your katana.

Nolan says he was influenced by not only Kurosawa's "plenty bloody" movies, but by Sonny Chiba films, saying "those are the ones Tarantino is riffing on in his films with the superfluidity of gore and mayhem."

The resulting "brutal and beautiful world ... raises the volume on what the guests might be looking for," Nolan says. "It wasn't just about gore, it's also about being immersive. We wanted to feel like our story dropped into a totally different world. Basically, we have a whole episode in Japanese."

Westworld returns to HBO on April 22.

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